Boy, Are We Fortunate

Thankful? I can say without hesitation that I sure am. There’s a zillion and one things that I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving…a great family and good health are a couple of them and rank right on top. Also something that I’m thankful for that alot of you can share in is the fact that we live and work where we do. We’re unbelievably fortunate actually.

This week we went to spend Thanksgiving with my wife Lesley’s aunt and uncle in Munford, Tennessee. It’s a little berg about 30 miles north of Memphis. This trip has been a huge learning experience for me. I really had no idea just how badly the economy’s slide has affected many parts of this country…mostly because we’re SO insulated from it. Five years ago when I was here last the area just south of downtown Memphis had gone through a massive urban renewal. I’d guess that a billion dollars were spent recreating this town and making it into quite a tourist destination. A mini AT&T Park was built called Autozone Park, a nice 3 story mall called Peabody Place that included a Jillians as well as just about all the rest of the standard shopping fare that we see at Hillsdale, an 18,000 seat arena that houses the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies called the FedExForum, the Memphis Rock & Soul Museum as well as a number of nice hotels. All this surrounding the incredible tourist destination that is BealeStreet.

Five years ago it was all booming. Today, the mall is almost completely devoid of tenants…it’s a shell. There were about 8 people in the Rock and Soul Museum when we were there on Sunday afternoon. Without the Grizzlies in that arena, I can’t imagine Beale Street itself managing to hang on….it sure didn’t look like it does in that pic above when we were there. The famous New Orleans watering hole, Pat Obriens opened on Beale…and went belly up. The actor, Morgan Freeman, went into that space with a club of his own, Ground Zero Blues Club and it failed recently. Gordan Biersch even opened…and closed down there.

Honestly, it shocks me. Can you imagine Columbus Ave in North Beach losing a third to half of it’s businesses? San Francisco Center Mall boarding up? The economy has really hammered area’s like Memphis. I won’t even begin to talk about what it’s done to home values there. Oh, heck why not…see this pic:

It’s a 3000 sq ft, 4 bedroom, 3.5 bath house on almost 3 acres…it’s listed for $295,000!

Folks, we really haven’t seen the impact of the downturn…and we’re not going to either. Everywhere I went in Memphis I talked to people about it and they all said the same thing. “It’s much better now than it was a year or two ago”. Our area is amazingly dynamic. There’s nowhere in the world like it. That’s a really great reason for all of us to be thankful this Thanksgiving.

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